The Twilight Sad at the Independent 3/8/12

Last Thursday night (3/8/12) I saw a trio of enjoyable acts at The Independent. It’s always nice to go in looking forward to the headliner and being pleasantly surprised by the opening acts. This was the case last Thursday.

Micah P. Hinson kicked off the night. I missed most of his set, but I enjoyed the three songs I did catch. I would never have expected an Americana singer-songwriter to be opening for The Twilight Sad, but I appreciated the melancholy and irony of his work.

Up next was the Velvet Teen. These local boys have been playing and recording in various forms around the Bay Area for the past 12 years. Thursday’s show was my first exposure to their music, and I was impressed by the variety of their set. A little synth, a little straight piano and even some prog rock. They had a bevy of loyal fans that made the show all the more fun. It’s not often that you have an opener pulling in as many fans as the headliner, so kudos to Velvet Teen for packing the Independent early.

I won’t lie. The openers were a nice diversion, but my sole purpose was seeing The Twilight Sad. This was the third time I’ve been able to catch this haunting Scottish band. I first happened upon their dark and brooding wall of sound back in 2008, sandwiched between fellow Scots, We Were Promised Jet Packs, and Frightened Rabbit. From the get-go I was smitten by singer James Graham’s thick Scottish brogue and haunting performance.

As of late, The Twilight Sad has embraced a more synth-laden style. It harkens back to the dark wave of the 80’s and it suits the band to a T. It was great to hear so much of the bands new synth-heavy material punctuating their more guitar-heavy older catalog. It gave an ebb and flow to the set. For me, the highlight was the gut-wretching one-two punch of “Reflections of The Television” followed by “I Became a Prostitute”. The band has a new album out, No One Can Ever Know. My two new favorites, “Nil” and “Another Bed” were fantastic live as well. Graham’s disembodied twitching delivery makes me think of what it must have been like to see Ian Curtis perform with Joy Division at the start of the post-punk era. I’ve decided that subconsciously, that’s why I always feel compelled to process my Twilight Sad pictures in stark black and white.

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